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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Heavy, bulky, hard to set up, very poor ventilation.
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
The Black Diamond Fitzroy is a very strong spacious two person or tightish three-person single wall expedition tent. Four moderate quality Easton poles setup from the inside and cross seven times while waterproof-breathable three-layer ePTFE membrane provides durable protection from the elements.
The Fitzroy is likely the strongest single wall tent we've tested and one of the stronger tents out there, but it's also one of the most difficult to set up. This is due to its internal pitch that uses 20 small, slightly finicky plastic twist-tie clips to attach the poles. While we don't think Black Diamonds other two pole internal set up tents are that hard to set up, the Fitzroy is a notch more challenging. The primary disadvantage to the Fitzroy is its the heaviest single wall tent we've tested (7 lb. 1 oz. without its optional vestibule). Its wider footprint makes it less capable of perching on ledges than narrower tents. And there are no dedicated vents – the doors are the only option for air circulation.
The Fitzroy is a very good tent that's mega-bomber in even the worst of conditions but it offers a unique and possibly smaller niche in the four season tent world. For a single wall tent, its almost competes in its weight and level of storm worthiness as many of the double wall tents like The North Face Mountain 25 or the Mountain Hardwear Trango 2 rather than many of the lighter, but less roomy or as bomber two pole designs. The Fitzory is nearly still a little lighter (1-1.5 pounds lighter) than most of the double wall four season tents but doesn't quite perform as well in milder, wetter, more three season conditions.
RELATED: Our complete review of four season tents
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Ease of Setup
Of all the single wall tents we've tested the Fitzroy is the hardest to pitch. You need to crawl inside the tent and fiddle with flimsy plastic twist tie style pole clips. These are thin, hard to use, and simply put, bad compared to the pole attachment methods that are used on other single wall tents. For example, most tents (Black Diamond Firstlight, Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2, Nemo Tenshi, etc) use velcro loops that are easier and faster to use. All of these other tents are faster and easier to pitch than the Fitzroy. Though ease of setup is only one factor of many to consider when selecting a tent we
ROCK SOLD protection is the worst conditions. No doubt. This tent has been used on many epic climbs all over the world. We found that it's DRUM TIGHT walls resist fierce gusts like a resilient boxing champion. As far as its strength in a storm we think its just as tough as it gets.
The Fitzroy is viable for three people (its a little tight) or provides two with more space than enough space for expedition or base camping use. For another $140 you can add a well designed optional vestibule, but that does bring the price of the Fitzroy to almost $850.
The main advantage here is the three-layer ePTFE membrane that's similar to those found on the world's best hardshell jackets. This construction type is used by many tents and is perhaps the most durable single wall tent fabric. The tent corners are heavily reinforced, too. We give this tent 10 out of 10 points for durability because it is super tough.
The tent weighs as little as 68 oz. or 6 lb. 4 oz. This is much heavier than other two-person single wall tents and also heavier than several ultra bomber double wall tents!! For example, the also ROCK SOLD Mountain Hardwear EV 2 weighs more than a pound less. The Mountain Hardwear Direkt 2 weighs less than half as much as the Fitzroy. And the Hilleberg Jannu weighs 3 oz. less and provides more comfort.
Adaptability and Moisture Management
The tent must be pitched the same way every time. It is a poor choice for warmer three season conditions and in low elevation wetter backpacking trips it preformed down right poorly. The Fitzroy is a bomber tent, just don't buy it for its versatility because other than the doors this tent has virtually no ventilation!! And for lower elevation camping we find that ventilation is more important than breathability. The Mountain Hardwear EV 3 has much better ventilation. Ditto with basically all other two-person single wall tents. Largely due to this drawback we found that the Fitzroy is more prone to condensation than other tents.
High altitude mountaineering, Base camping and alpine climbing in burly stormy venues like the Alaska Range and the karakorum.
Value and the Bottom Line
At $700 the Fitzroy is one of the more expensive tents in our review; then you take into account that the vestibule is an additional $140 bringing the total to $840 means this is not a cheap tent. We feel the Mountain Hardwear EV 3 is a better value, but in the worst of storms or for hanging out with two people for weeks on end in a Base Camping situation we'd prefer the Fitzory. The Fitzroy isn't as lightweight nor as compact as several of the two and three pole single wall tents and thus isn't as good for more technical, climbing with your tent on-your-back type routes nor is it good for anything that not dry or in the alpine.
Black Diamond First Light
Black Diamond Ahwahnee
— Ian Nicholson, Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: November 3, 2014
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